Running to remember


By Erin Bruehl

Charles Garbarini, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, always wanted to run the New York City Marathon. However, his work, studying for the captain’s exam and being the father of two small children had never allowed him time to train. Lt. Garbarini had been working just one shift at the Engine 23 in Midtown on Sept. 11, 2001 and his entire ninth battalion died when the Twin Towers collapsed around them.

However, on Sunday there will be a Garbarini among the thousands of marathoners, the lieutenant’s wife, Andrea, 41. The Garbarinis had talked on occasion about running the marathon together but “I told him I had no desire to run 26 miles,” she said. She changed her mind when she received an invitation to run in the marathon this year through the Fire Department.

“I wanted to run because of my husband who always wanted to do it,” Garbarini said. “I felt in honor of him I would do it. He always said one day he was going to do it. But life changes when you have kids.”

Her training began in August, following the New York City Roadrunner’s Guideline. She has been running about 20 miles a week, 4-6 miles a day during the week and longer runs on the weekends. Gradually, she has been working up to 30 miles a week. However, taking care of the children and the house as a single mother does not allow time for much else. “It’s just me, I’m running the house,” she said

Charles, 45, and Andrea Garbarini, grew up together in the Bronx and both attended St. Anne’s Grammar School and Cardinal Spellman High School. They were a couple for 16 years, married for six and had two sons together, Dylan, 7, and Philip, 5 who both attend the new Bedford Road School in Pleasantville, N.Y.

When Garbarini received the invitation to join the marathon, she decided she wanted to use her running as a way to raise money for a cause in memory of her husband. She was going to give it to their alma mater but decided instead on donating it to help build the new playground at the children’s public elementary school.

“I want my boys to have something to touch to remind them of their dad,” she said. “The playground is in the works and hopefully with this money more equipment can be purchased. I can’t think of a better way to honor Charlie’s memory than to watch children laughing, playing, and celebrating life together,” she explained.

She presented her idea to the Pleasantville School Board, which quickly gave its approval. The school printed flyers and sent them home to the parents of the elementary school children. Garbarini is asking people to donate money to sponsor her run. They can donate any amount and send the money directly to the Parent Teacher Association.

She admits that some mornings it is hard to get up and be motivated to run five miles, especially when it is cold or raining. However, the memory of her husband always gets her out the door. “I have something else in me to get me through it besides running,” she said, “I think of him often when I run. He was so funny. It is hard when it rains. He is my motivation. I think about when he used to say, ‘do you know what happens when you run in the rain? You get wet’. That is all that will happen to you.”

Anyone interested in supporting Andrea Garbarini’s fundraising drive can mail a check to BRS PTA (Charles Garbarini Run for Fun in the memo section) to: Charles Garbarini Run for Fun c/o Bedford Road School Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570.